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Survival Flexibility


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Another words the ability to adapt to your situation. In Baseball, there's nothing like the confrontation between pitcher/ hitter. To be successful, you either need to constantly  adapt to the other strong points and find their weak points, always looking for an edge. In 2019 with the juiced ball the hitters had the advantage, successful pitchers adapted. In 2020, pitching had the edge because of the short season and some HR hitters had difficulty to adjust off the juiced ball.

https://www.si.com/mlb/2021/02/09/baseball-changes-dead-ball-era

In 2021, the ball became deader and it showed in the beginning of the season where many no-hitters were thrown. Some of the Twins pure hitters like Cruz, Buxton, Polanco, Arraez and Donaldson had adjusted but the others had more difficulties to do so. Garver and later Sano towards the end of the season seemed to swing  better. Now the ability for a hitter to adjust to the change of the ball IMO has to do with the ability of the FO to change their mindsets to adjust to the changes.

In 2019, The Twins broke the HR record for a single season. Falvey and Levine were the darlings of MLB. So it's easy to see why their focus was hit the HR. The transition from the juiced ball to the deader ball, the mindsets of the managements need to change along with it. To help their hitters change and maintain their focus from hitting a HR on every AB to just making solid contact. In 2021, it was my impression the FO was encouraging their hitters, even nonpower hitters, to hit the HR on every AB. It seemed that hitters were SO more often (and looking bad doing so) and flying out more often. When you're trying to hit a HR every AB, it's hard to react to a pitch when you're swinging with all your might. Simmons wasn't the only one that looked ridiculous up there, many did. It seems in many recent incidents that this FO isn't capable of changing their mindsets that aren't working. I hope the new hitting coach much luck and that he's able to improve our hitting prowess. But the fact that his resume' is that his team lead the league in HR, impresses upon me that this FO is indeed  not able to change. Which means we're not able to survive. 

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It feels that way because *all* of baseball has begun taking this approach. The Twins stats are pretty in-line with one another across the board:

AL Ranks
OPS: 6th
BB: 7th
SO: 6th
BA: 9th

It feels so much different because baseball has swung so much toward the Three True Outcomes. The best team batting average in the American League was the Astros. Their team batting average was .267.

*gags*

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23 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

It feels that way because *all* of baseball has begun taking this approach. The Twins stats are pretty in-line with one another across the board:

AL Ranks
OPS: 6th
BB: 7th
SO: 6th
BA: 9th

It feels so much different because baseball has swung so much toward the Three True Outcomes. The best team batting average in the American League was the Astros. Their team batting average was .267.

*gags*

Thank you Brock for that info. I believe it's true that the trend is everyone is focused on hitting HRs. I believe the team that'll get tired of seeing SOs, FOs, pop-ups and weak contact and bucks that trend by focusing on having a more compact swing, making solid contact and go the other way, will be a very competitive team (I doubt that the juiced ball will come back ant time soon).  Instead of getting outs you're getting hits and that's not to say if you get your pitch that you can't crush it.

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It's hard to blame anyone. The most efficient way to score is to hit a HR. The most efficient way to get an out is to get a strikeout. If you're serious about winning, scoring often and efficiently is obviously your best bet.

The other sports have changed too. Everyone in the NFL has realized the most efficient way to score is to throw the ball 40 yards down field. The NBA has realized the most efficient way to score is to launch 3 pointers.

Unfortunately for baseball, being efficient doesn't exactly gel with the historic low-tempo, casual approach we all enjoyed growing up. Probably because the other sports have clocks, they already had a built in sense of urgency that was better accommodating to these changes.

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On 11/23/2021 at 2:54 PM, Brock Beauchamp said:

It feels so much different because baseball has swung so much toward the Three True Outcomes. The best team batting average in the American League was the Astros. Their team batting average was .267.

*gags*

Just to reinforce how much baseball has changed, if you go back 35 years to 1986, the best team batting average in the AL was Cleveland at .284. The Astros' 2021 number of .267 would have finished fifth in the American League in 1986.

The median AL team in 1986 had a batting average of .259-.260 (between the Twins and Orioles that season).

The median AL team in 2021, Detroit, had a batting average of .242.

I'm not one to wax nostalgic about times past but baseball was simply a better spectator sport 30+ years ago, even if the overall performance level was considerably lower.

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On 11/24/2021 at 2:55 PM, nicksaviking said:

It's hard to blame anyone. The most efficient way to score is to hit a HR. The most efficient way to get an out is to get a strikeout. If you're serious about winning, scoring often and efficiently is obviously your best bet.

The other sports have changed too. Everyone in the NFL has realized the most efficient way to score is to throw the ball 40 yards down field. The NBA has realized the most efficient way to score is to launch 3 pointers.

Unfortunately for baseball, being efficient doesn't exactly gel with the historic low-tempo, casual approach we all enjoyed growing up. Probably because the other sports have clocks, they already had a built in sense of urgency that was better accommodating to these changes.

I'm not trying to promote nostalgia. In 2019, I loved watching my team hit that juiced ball and break the MLB team HR record. Then is then and now is now. The juiced ball is replaced with a dead ball. Pitching has made that adjustment hitting has not. Kepler is an interesting case study. Everyone is against Kepler because of his lack of production, still trying to hit a HR every pitch, getting lift and pulling the ball.  It is evident that he has not made that adjustment.

Rosario is another interesting case study, in the end of 2019 pitchers had adjusted to him. Rosario always wanted to be the hero. Every PA he was trying to hit the HR especially in clutch times, pitchers had him chasing ridiculous pitches. That continued until the end of this season in ATL. In the 2021 NLCS, Rosario was a different person. He adjusted his swing, laid off junk outside the zone and went the other way if  the opportunity called for it. He adjusted and became the NLCS MVP. Which performance would you prefer the adjusted or the unadjusted?

I'm not anti-HR. I'm just saying that the focus shouldn't be hitting HRs but instead making solid contact. Making solid contact you'll still get your share of HRs. Looking at Sano', he is so strong he can hit anything out the park if he makes solid contact. If he makes adjustments to his swing he could hit even more HRs. He probably won't hit those towering 500 ft. HRs (which don't get any extra runs) at the same time won't be hitting those towering FO and striking out less. 

My point is that the FO shouldn't stress every hitter (power and non-power) to hit HRs. But stress solid contact and practicing going the other way to destroy the shift and make the defense honest, cutting down on SOs and FOs. To me SOs, FOs and weak contact isn't a very efficient way to score. The ball has changed, the pitching has adapted and the defense has adapted, now the FO has to change his mindset. If he is able, he'll not only survive but thrive getting the edge over the the other dinosaurs.

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2 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

Rosario is another interesting case study, in the end of 2019 pitchers had adjusted to him. Rosario always wanted to be the hero. Every PA he was trying to hit the HR especially in clutch times, pitchers had him chasing ridiculous pitches. That continued until the end of this season in ATL. In the 2021 NLCS, Rosario was a different person. He adjusted his swing, laid off junk outside the zone and went the other way if  the opportunity called for it. He adjusted and became the NLCS MVP. Which performance would you prefer the adjusted or the unadjusted?

Frankly, this is building a narrative to suit an argument, not an objective look at the situation. First, Rosario posted a 116 OPS+ in 2020 while he has a career 108 OPS+. Second, here is Rosario's OPS by postseason series:

NLDS: .665
NLCS: 1.040
WS: .664

He drew one walk in the NLDS and hit for no power. He drew three walks and hit three homers in the NLCS. He drew four walks but once again was pretty ineffective in the World Series.

Eddie Rosario didn't "figure anything out" and anyone who has watched Eddie play for 6+ seasons should know this is just what he does over short periods of time. He's a wildly inconsistent, frustrating, and fun, player depending on the day.

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4 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

I'm not trying to promote nostalgia. In 2019, I loved watching my team hit that juiced ball and break the MLB team HR record. Then is then and now is now. The juiced ball is replaced with a dead ball. Pitching has made that adjustment hitting has not. Kepler is an interesting case study. Everyone is against Kepler because of his lack of production, still trying to hit a HR every pitch, getting lift and pulling the ball.  It is evident that he has not made that adjustment.

Rosario is another interesting case study, in the end of 2019 pitchers had adjusted to him. Rosario always wanted to be the hero. Every PA he was trying to hit the HR especially in clutch times, pitchers had him chasing ridiculous pitches. That continued until the end of this season in ATL. In the 2021 NLCS, Rosario was a different person. He adjusted his swing, laid off junk outside the zone and went the other way if  the opportunity called for it. He adjusted and became the NLCS MVP. Which performance would you prefer the adjusted or the unadjusted?

I'm not anti-HR. I'm just saying that the focus shouldn't be hitting HRs but instead making solid contact. Making solid contact you'll still get your share of HRs. Looking at Sano', he is so strong he can hit anything out the park if he makes solid contact. If he makes adjustments to his swing he could hit even more HRs. He probably won't hit those towering 500 ft. HRs (which don't get any extra runs) at the same time won't be hitting those towering FO and striking out less. 

My point is that the FO shouldn't stress every hitter (power and non-power) to hit HRs. But stress solid contact and practicing going the other way to destroy the shift and make the defense honest, cutting down on SOs and FOs. To me SOs, FOs and weak contact isn't a very efficient way to score. The ball has changed, the pitching has adapted and the defense has adapted, now the FO has to change his mindset. If he is able, he'll not only survive but thrive getting the edge over the the other dinosaurs.

The front office transformed an identity-less team into a wall of mashers when that was absolutely the key to winning. 
 

The league then immediately negated the advantage the Twins had purposefully built. Now you’re complaining because they didn’t re-rebuild the club in two years?

I mean no one’s happy with the front office at the moment, but being incredulous that they couldn’t flip an entire roster overnight and using the poster child for poor plate approaches to condemn them is crazy.

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11 hours ago, nicksaviking said:

The front office transformed an identity-less team into a wall of mashers when that was absolutely the key to winning. 
 

The league then immediately negated the advantage the Twins had purposefully built. Now you’re complaining because they didn’t re-rebuild the club in two years?

I mean no one’s happy with the front office at the moment, but being incredulous that they couldn’t flip an entire roster overnight and using the poster child for poor plate approaches to condemn them is crazy.

I am totally against rebuilding, I want to make that perfectly clear. The game is always changing and our approach needs to change to keep up with the game. Many of those HRs in 2019 are now FOs, so their solution is swing harder which causes more SOs. Adaptation is essential to play in the MLB, if not you're left behind. Kepler needs to make that adaptation and coaching needs to encourage him to do that, not reinforcing Kepler to stay in that the old rut.  They kept on trying to tinker with Buxton's swing until he said enough is enough. I would not stress my coaching staff to continue this philosophy of  trying to hit a HR with every AB to the entire team.

Rebuilding is trading the entire core for prospects. I'm most definitely not proposing this, that would be a horrendous mistake. Kepler is one of my favorite players. But if he can't adapt away from this rut, I would trade him. Not for prospects but injunction with others for high end pitching.

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14 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

I am totally against rebuilding, I want to make that perfectly clear. The game is always changing and our approach needs to change to keep up with the game. Many of those HRs in 2019 are now FOs, so their solution is swing harder which causes more SOs. Adaptation is essential to play in the MLB, if not you're left behind. Kepler needs to make that adaptation and coaching needs to encourage him to do that, not reinforcing Kepler to stay in that the old rut.  They kept on trying to tinker with Buxton's swing until he said enough is enough. I would not stress my coaching staff to continue this philosophy of  trying to hit a HR with every AB to the entire team.

Rebuilding is trading the entire core for prospects. I'm most definitely not proposing this, that would be a horrendous mistake. Kepler is one of my favorite players. But if he can't adapt away from this rut, I would trade him. Not for prospects but injunction with others for high end pitching.

Changing the individual players' skillsets and how they actually play the game seems like a much more unachievable task than actually changing which players are on the roster.

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As a ball player, what's not to like with the feast or famine approach? I hit the homer, I don't have to worry about running around the bases, having to know situations, run the risk of injury. I can just trot around the bases, hey, look at me I just gave you a souvenir of my wonderfulness, thump my heart, kiss my fingers, point to the sky, cross home plate, bump elbows and celebrate with all the guys and have a seat. If I strikeout, hey, no problem. At least I didn't hit into a double play and again, I don't have the fuss of having to run again. Back to the dugout and my bag of seeds. On defense, the other guy hits a homer and I can just stand there and marvel at its majestic trajectory and watch the fans scramble for the ball . . . very entertaining. Of course if the other guy strikes out . . . awesome. One down . . . two down, three and were outta here and I didn't have to run around chasing the baseball, risk injury or exert myself. Home run derby baby. Who needs athletes.

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I think we all agree 3 true outcomes is boring to watch. I am interested in seeing more studies on the Atlantic League, who moved the mound back a foot in the 2nd half of their season. Unfortunately the results aren’t drastic 

I would hope if the ball continues to change, the approach at the plate changes too. I wouldn’t mind going back to a deadened ball from the 2011-2014 timeframe. Back when the league average for HRs was 140 instead of close to 200 today. The game is way more interesting when the ball is in the field of play, and teams have different types of batters - the slap hitters, line drive hitters, gap hitters, and power hitters. 

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1 hour ago, Sconnie said:

Merging a thought from the SS defense thread, does automated strike zone impact how you construct your team?

It absolitely changes what I look for in a catcher. Given the construction of baseball and the lack of a running game, I’d immediately go out and find a defensive butcher who rakes because the downside is so minimal. 

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3 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

It absolitely changes what I look for in a catcher. Given the construction of baseball and the lack of a running game, I’d immediately go out and find a defensive butcher who rakes because the downside is so minimal. 

Agreed, also possibly pitching and SS

pitchers that nibble at the zone and can break their pitches in and out (lateral or vertical) can become more valuable relatively to flame throwers, and so infield defense can become more valuable

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1 minute ago, Sconnie said:

Agreed, also possibly pitching and SS

pitchers that nibble at the zone and can break their pitches in and out (lateral or vertical) can become more valuable relatively to flame throwers, and so infield defense can become more valuable

Good point. It definitely changes pitching but how MLB implements the zone will factor heavily into how it changes pitching. 

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4 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

Good point. It definitely changes pitching but how MLB implements the zone will factor heavily into how it changes pitching. 

Very true, was thinking more of consistency of zone for the nibblers, would mean reputational strikes would go away… assumed the rulebook zone would stand. If the zone is smaller or shifts… whew when the zone gets tweaked the permutations grow exponentially… 7 sides plus 6 directions my brain is too turkey-lazy to do the math today

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2 hours ago, Sconnie said:

Very true, was thinking more of consistency of zone for the nibblers, would mean reputational strikes would go away… assumed the rulebook zone would stand. If the zone is smaller or shifts… whew when the zone gets tweaked the permutations grow exponentially… 7 sides plus 6 directions my brain is too turkey-lazy to do the math today

Oh, definitely. Control artists could make a comeback either way. What I was speaking about specifically is that, to my understanding, right now umpires don’t call the high strike by the rule book. If MLB doesn’t change the rule book and automated umps call the rule book zone, pitchers would have 1-2” more space to work at the top of the zone, which could propel pitchers like Odorizzi to an elite level. If they didn’t have to risk occasionally dropping a ball into the meat of the plate to be hit 450’ and instead had two more inches of wiggle room above the current zone, they could become very valuable players, much moreso than today. 

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4 hours ago, Sconnie said:

Merging a thought from the SS defense thread, does automated strike zone impact how you construct your team?

I've been assuming that overall it helps the hitters more than the pitchers.  The other points made, concerning control pitchers for example, probably have an impact too.  I'm just thinking that pitching is about disrupting the hitter's timing, and anything that even slightly reduces a batter's uncertainty will result in more confidence in taking pitches, which changes the complexion of any at bat.  For constructing your team, then, maybe hitters with a good eye will be rewarded more, and you should slant roster decisions toward them.

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I don't think it benefits hitters or pitchers a whole lot. Consistency is what both hitters and pitchers would like to see.

Pitch framing becomes less important, but pop time, and arm strength along with blocking pitches become a greater focus for catchers. That means the catcher may take a very different stance. Maybe one leg behind them where the ump would normally be standing for more throwing velocity.

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18 hours ago, Sconnie said:

Merging a thought from the SS defense thread, does automated strike zone impact how you construct your team?

Regarding catching, we no longer will need to consider a catcher's effectiveness at faking out the home plate umpire.

It will certainly affect pitching and batting as well, but as far as constructing a team I think any effect will be a short term one. After a year or so we will know which pitchers and batters execute based on a consistent strike zone and no longer get calls based on reputation, home field advantage, and the like.

This reminds me of a story I once read that probably isn't true but bears repeating. A rookie pitcher was facing Ted Williams. The first pitch passes through the strike zone, and the umpire calls ball one. The same thing for the second pitch, called ball two. The pitcher asks the umpire about the call on those pitches, and the umpire responds, "Mr. Williams will inform you when the pitch is a strike."

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58 minutes ago, Nine of twelve said:

 

It will certainly affect pitching and batting as well, but as far as constructing a team I think any effect will be a short term one. After a year or so we will know which pitchers and batters execute based on a consistent strike zone and no longer get calls based on reputation, home field advantage, and the like.

This speaks well to the OP. The FO needs to be more responsive. Only waiting for the market to come to you means you’re only shopping in one aisle of the grocery store. You might need lobster, but if you only shop in the canned goods section, your making due with canned tuna.

we’re talking about an event to make the execution events more tangible, but the game continually evolves. The FO’s execution of the strategy needs to change with it. There are hundreds of sense and response events in a season

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On 11/25/2021 at 10:58 PM, nicksaviking said:

The front office transformed an identity-less team into a wall of mashers when that was absolutely the key to winning. 
 

The league then immediately negated the advantage the Twins had purposefully built. Now you’re complaining because they didn’t re-rebuild the club in two years?

I mean no one’s happy with the front office at the moment, but being incredulous that they couldn’t flip an entire roster overnight and using the poster child for poor plate approaches to condemn them is crazy.

And they did respond to the deadened ball by signing a glove-first short stop. The FO isn’t incapable of being responsive. They do box themselves in though…

I can’t think of an early, decisive, addition move. In an off-season where this team desperately needs decisiveness, it really feels like this FO is sticking to their modus operandi.

my fear is this will limit the effectiveness of their moves, or default into sell-off because they can’t get the pieces they need

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